Women lead the way for Turkey as men falter

15 May 2017

Turkey enjoyed mixed fortunes in the swimming pool on the third day of the Islamic Solidarity Games, as their women dominated, but their men failed to land a single individual gold medal.

Ilknur Nihan Cakici, Ekaterina Avramova and Nida Eliz Ustundag all struck gold for Turkey in the women's 100m freesyle, 200m backstroke and 200m butterfly respectively, while their men had to settle for a solitary success in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

The long-distance events remain an Achilles' heel for the Turkish women, though, and the only final they failed to win on Monday was a spectacular 1500m freestyle.

Algeria's Souad Nefissa Cherouati - the only non-Turkish woman to have won gold at the Solidarity Games so far - came out on top of an enthralling battle with Indonesia's Raina Ramdhani to claim victory, adding to her title in the 800m freestyle on Saturday.

Cherouati and Ramdhani were neck-and-neck heading into the final lengths of a race that lasted over 17 minutes, but the Algerian produced a decisive burst of speed to win by just over a second, with Turkey's Ecem Donmez only four seconds back in bronze.

In the earlier women's events, Cakici cruised to victory in the 100m freestyle in 56.27 seconds, while Bayan Jumah took Syria's first swimming silver of these Solidarity Games.

Avramova won an absorbing contest with Turkish compatriot Halime Zulal Zeren to grab gold in the 200m backstroke.

Bulgarian-born Avramova - who lives and trains in the UK - will be looking to make it a clean sweep of backstroke golds in Tuesday's 50m final, having already won the 100m race on Sunday.

Turkey's gold rush continued as Ustundag held off Indonesia's Adinda Dewi and teammate Imge Roza Erdemli to triumph in the women's 200m butterfly.

In the men's events, Maksym Shemberev powered to victory in the 400m medley to take his second gold medal in as many days for hosts Azerbaijan.

Ukrainian-born Shemberev clocked a winning time of 4:16.56 to add to his title in the 1500m freestyle and delight the home fans at the Baku Aquatics Centre.

Indonesia, meanwhile, have picked up 20 medals since the swimming began, but Gede I Sudartawa's gold in the 100m backstroke was just their second of the Solidarity Games.

The 22-year-old defending champion won a superb race in 55.23 seconds, while Merdan Atayev sealed a first swimming medal for Turkmenistan with silver. Turkey's 200m backstroke gold medallist, Ege Baser, could only manage bronze.

Algeria then picked up their second gold in the pool as Oussama Sahnoune snatched victory in the 50m freestyle by the skin of his teeth.
The defending champion surged to the line in 22.28, just seven hundredths quicker than Turkey's Huseyin Emre Sakci, with Triady Sidiq of Indonesia half a second back in third.

Algeria added a third gold in the following race with Cherouati's win in the women's 1500m freestyle, and now sit second in the swimming medal table behind runaway leaders Turkey.

The Turkish men restored some measure of pride with a controlled victory in the day's final race, the 4x200 freestyle relay, but their ambitious delegation will be hoping for far greater individual success on Tuesday and Wednesday.

After three days of competition, Turkey's swimming medal count stands at 32 - one more than they managed at the 2013 Islamic Solidarity Games - with 14 gold, 10 silver and 8 bronze.

There are no fewer than nine medal events coming up on Tuesday, including the women's 50m backstroke and 4x100m freestyle relay, and the men's 200m butterfly and 50m backstroke.

© AFP Services

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